Elias delivered his best performance of the season, making sure he’d record his first win of the year.
BALTIMORE — It’s been well established that a pitcher’s win-loss record rarely gauges the quality of his outings or his overall performance. Looking for a viable measure of a pitcher’s success, his win-loss record is far from the best determinant.
And yet, that doesn’t mean Roenis Elias wouldn’t like to have more W’s next to his name in the season statistics.
The little left-hander has pitched well since being called up on April 26. He’s given the Mariners opportunity after opportunity to win games, which they’ve squandered or failed to complete for a variety of reasons.
Mariners @ Baltimore, 9:35 a.m., ROOT Sports
That changed Wednesday night at Camden Yards. Elias delivered his best performance of the season, making sure the win would be his in the Mariners’ 4-2 victory over the Orioles.
Elias pitched 72/3 innings, giving up one run on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts, to notch his first win and improve to 1-1 in five starts.
“He really pitched well enough to win his first four starts, and it’s unfortunate that we didn’t swing the bats well enough for him,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We swung the bats well for him tonight. And he’s been outstanding. He’s been very, very consistent since his recall from Triple A.”
Of course, the Mariners (18-21) being the Mariners, things got a little hairy at the end. Closer Fernando Rodney, as he has been known to do, provided some ninth-inning drama. He gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning and the thrill ride began. He then struck out Chris Davis and Steve Pearce looking to provide a moment of calm. But with two outs and the outfield playing deep to avoid extra-base hits, J.J. Hardy blooped a single into center, scoring a run and putting runners on the corners, including the tying run on first.
But Rodney ended the game and McClendon’s anxiety and notched his 10th save, getting Travis Snider to ground out to second. Is McClendon getting used to the wild Rodney rides?
“I should be,” he said.
The night belonged to Elias, who was brilliant, using a lively fastball and a well-located sinking changeup to keep ultra-aggressive Baltimore hitters off-balance.
“Everything went well,” Elias said through translator and bullpen coach Mike Rojas. “I felt really good. Ever since I was in the bullpen, I knew it was going to be a good outing. I had a good changeup. I hardly threw any curveballs, and I had good command on my fastball.”
Elias gave up a first-inning, two-out single to Adam Jones and then retired 16 of the next 17 batters he faced.
“He was unbelievable,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “He worked ahead. His changeup was down in the zone. He was able to attack guys. He got weak ground balls and weak fly balls. He had that two-pitch command with his fastball and changeup that you need to go deep into games.”
The Mariners provided requisite run support off Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen. Zunino doubled home Justin Ruggiano, who had doubled earlier in the second inning, to make it 1-0.
Consistent playing time has been sparse for Ruggiano, with only a handful of left-handed starting pitchers facing Seattle in recent weeks, so he took advantage of the rare start. After a leadoff double from Nelson Cruz to start the fourth inning, Ruggiano crushed a 2-2 slider from Chen into the seats in left field for his second homer of the season to make it 3-0.
“I was just looking for something to hit up the middle,” Ruggiano said. “That was my main goal, and he happened to hang a slider.”
The Mariners pushed the lead to 4-0 in the seventh inning. With a large group of family and friends in the stands from his nearby hometown of Virginia Beach, Chris Taylor hit his first career triple — a line drive into the right-field corner that scored Logan Morrison all the way from first.